Wednesday, March 10, 2010

3 innovations worth watching this year

In its review of the top innovations of last year, INC. Magazine included these intriguing health technologies:

1. A Tiny, Wireless Heart Monitor

CardioMEMS, based in Atlanta, envisions a world in which wireless sensors implanted throughout the body constantly monitor a patient’s cardiovascular health. The company’s first sensor, the EndoSure, is implanted in 5,000 patients suffering from aortic aneurysms. The sensor measures pressure inside the aorta and transmits data, via radio waves, to physicians during appointments a few times a year, so they can tailor patients’ drug regimens.

2. A New Way to Fight Germs

When searching for a way to keep barnacles from sticking to ship hulls, Tony Brennan, co-founder of Sharklet Technologies, looked to sharkskin, which is known for its ability to resist microbes. Peering through a microscope at an impression of the skin, Brennan confirmed his hunch that a diamond-shaped pattern of tiny tooth-like projections was keeping it clean. Now, the Alachua, Florida-based company makes sheets of plastic called SafeTouch, which are imprinted with a raised sharkskin-like pattern and can be adhered to germ-prone surfaces to prevent bacteria from settling in for up to 30 days.

3. Retinal Implants for the Blind

In an effort to provide vision to the blind, Sylmar, California-based company Second Sight has developed the Argus II, a retinal implant that receives images taken with a video camera mounted on eyeglasses. The images are converted into electronic signals by a processor and wirelessly transmitted to a receiver implanted on the eye. The receiver sends the data through a cable to an array of electrodes, which emit electric pulses that activate cells in the retina, sending signals through the optic nerve to the brain. Patients interpret the resulting patterns as low-res black-and-white images.

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